Dear Lowell Community,
I hope everyone has had a chance to celebrate the end of the school year and acknowledge all the ways our community stepped up to make it through a school year unlike any other in Lowell’s history. This summer will be unique as well, and I am glad that so many of you were able to join me last night for the Community Meeting to hear about what is on the horizon for Lowell in the coming months.
At the end of the meeting, there was a queue of 25-30 questions that I was unable to get to. Some of those questions will be answered at our next community meeting, and the rest we will post answers to next week.
Summer Camp Updates
This week, Mayor Bowser announced that if all metrics continue trending in a positive direction, the District of Columbia will move into Phase 2 on Monday, June 22. In Phase 2, daytime summer camps are able to open with very specific guidelines designed to mitigate the risk of infection.
We have been planning for this possibility for a few months, and so I am pleased to share with you that we will be opening our campus for camp on Monday, June 29. We will have measures in place that follow the District of Columbia’s ReOpen guidelines and that support the safety of staff and campers, include controls to limit contact, provide for consistent cleaning and disinfecting, and address potential exposures and positive COVID-19 cases.
Due to these guidelines, in-person camp will be available in a very limited capacity for rising Kindergarten through rising 6th grade children. The plan is to have three sessions. The first will be two weeks long beginning June 29 and open exclusively to Lowell families and those families who are currently enrolled in our cyber camp. The second session will be three weeks long, and the third session in August will be two weeks long. Look for a communication from Auxiliary Programs with more information about our offerings and registration.
I want to thank Dawn Smith, our director of Auxiliary Programs, for working tirelessly the past three months attending webinars, listening to press conferences, hunting down hand sanitizer and other hard-to-find supplies, and never giving up hope that we might be able to open camp on campus. It is due to her faith, hard work, and team leadership that we are able to offer a program this summer.
Reopening Campus and the Work of the Task Force
While camp is happening, we will be preparing to reopen school after Labor Day with the help of a task force comprised of over 75 members of the community participating in 11 committees. These committees will be coordinated and guided by a management team that includes representatives from each of the subcommittees, as well as the outgoing and incoming board chairs.
Given the likelihood that the District will be in either Phase 2 or Phase 3 of reopening, the task force will be working towards a plan of action that will allow us to begin the school year with a hybrid model of instruction. This will allow for both in-person and remote learning. The benefits of a blended learning model are that it allows us to keep on-campus groups small and in line with recommendations from government officials, enables us to mitigate the risk of infection, gives families a choice, and keeps learning going for everyone with the use of remote platforms.
In order to be ready for the new school year, the task force is charged with
- Reviewing the research, assumptions, questions, and ideas for each committee’s area of focus;
- Creating and collecting data that will inform action steps;
- Prioritizing questions and recommending solutions for the management committee;
- Identifying action steps in line with public health requirements and recommendations;
- Articulating unresolved ambiguities, questions, and decisions to the management team.
We have already collected a lot of valuable data from the parent surveys and the middle school student survey. But we still need more. You will receive two surveys soon—one regarding technology and one that assesses your level of comfort with sending your child to campus in September.
To keep lines of communication open, we will continue to follow the decision making of our government and health officials and hold community meetings through the summer to share with you where we are in our planning process. Other opportunities for engagement are in the works, but for now, put these dates on your calendars:
July 28 and August 20
Last time we met I announced that we are prioritizing the building of connections between teachers and students in the month of August. For your planning purposes, I want you to know that this initiative does not have a start date yet, but would not begin before August 17.
Over the last three months, we have dealt with stress and strain on a daily basis. This pandemic has brought a level of exhaustion, pain, and frustration that for some of us, may be the most significant we have ever experienced. This pandemic has also highlighted the ways in which our country still has a long way to go when acknowledging our racist past and the systemic oppression that pervades every aspect of all our lives. In the last few months, that oppression has significantly impacted Asian and Asian Americans, and people who lack access to healthcare and food. And we have witnessed yet again, our country’s hate towards and implicit bias against Black and Brown people. We continue to see the impact of a system that treats Black people as less than human.
Lowell is a community that sees and understands this truth. While I know that Lowell is not just about talk, talking and listening are always part of our shared work. I have been thinking about a series of conversations that will allow us to continue acting together to live into Lowell’s commitment to social justice—courageous conversations that are being framed by my interactions with many of you. We are not the kind of institution that rises to the occasion only when something makes the news, but we are the kind of institution that recognizes an opportunity to push the accelerator when necessary, so I encourage you to be on the lookout for more information about these conversations and other opportunities to come together in a renewed commitment to fair and equal treatment for all.
While we will always have to rise to meet unexpected challenges, it won’t stop us from continuing to live into our mission and our philosophy. I am looking forward to reconnecting with you later this summer to update you on how we will continue to do both.
Head of School